Friday, August 11, 2006

Dear Reds

When it's the bottom of the 15th and there are two on, you might not want to walk the batter so that you can pitch to the league leader in home runs instead. I'm just sayin'.

Mary Beth

Thursday, August 10, 2006


Other, normal young teenagers, should they discreetly pour large amounts of allowance into a 1-900 number, do so with a person named after some sort of dessert on the other end. Me? 1-900-NASA.

Porn for the young space dork, 1-900- NASA allowed the dialee to eavesdrop on Houston-astronaut chatter during space shuttle missions. Occasionally a commentator would break in to translate the flying acronyms.

Imagine the yo-yo of horror and delight I shot through upon moving to Cape Canaveral when I discovered that what I had been listening to was the live audio track of NASA TV mission coverage, which I could now experience all day, every day—for free.

Always one to glut on over-information, NTV (for nothing is officially attached to the American space program without first being sanitized as a rimshot of letters) burns forth in my apartment whenever I'm in the apartment and Americans are orbiting. The programming puts astronaut life in the harsh rocket glare of mundane reality, as there is a great deal of:

"Cryro stir."

"Copy, Houston."

"Set switch 41-B to position O-7."


I mean, that's some compelling reality television.

But occasionally, the orbiting spacecraft will pass out of radio contact, and Earth and space are forced into temporary silence. The screen flips to telemetry data and the intermittent overhead shot of quiet, darkened desks in Mission Control. I am always startled by the sudden silence, and often poke my head around the corner or glance up from the keyboard to make sure everything is zipping along at a normal 17,500 miles an hour up there.

I wonder what the astronauts do with these large, lovely blocks of nothingness. Their schedules are crammed wall-to-wall with cleanup duties, scientific experiments, and exercise, but I'd be surprised if they don't every now and then—at the crackling silence—tilt their heads and steal a glance at the stars above, the curve of the Earth below, pondering their lonely place in between.

As for us, there are stop signs; there is computer reboot time. You be quiet today, Internet.

repacking all future carry-on baggage at:

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I didn't write about it at the time, but Will The Newborn Nephew issued a prenatal scare in the second trimester. There were some indications that he might have a kidney problem. We wouldn't know for sure until after the birth.

Then he was born, and placed on his mother's chest as his father bent over him, both of them brimming with exhaustion and wonder, fingers gently brushing his small warm head.

"Hey..." his father said after a second. For his new son was peeing on him.

"I'm glad he let me know where I stand right off," Country The Brother In Law said.

Well, at least his kidneys work; this has happened at least two more times. It's Daddy! Open fire.

Will peed on me too, the first day we met, and then he spit up in my hair and pooped and peed some more. That's okay. Kidneys are harder to come by than a new tee shirt. Pee on, Will.

note to self: place new, clean diaper over Area while throwing the dirty one away at:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Ou est le bibliotech?

Get this, you guys, get this. Next month I could very well be using my passport for the very first time, in... France.

I might have an opportunity to go to Nice, which I hear is very... nice. I can't wait to have my very own international incident. Remind me to update my Loud Camera-Carrying American membership card.

Like a good dork, I did not immediately shop for shoes or scour my closets for a striped beret-- I went to the Internet to dig up some history. Turns out Nice is right next to Italy and everybody in Europe kept punching each other over it, and it wasn't even firmly in French hands until 1860. Imagine that-- they were still fighting over sovereignty when we here in the United States, our act very firmly together, were just warming up to shoot at each other for four years straight. Ha! France.

Nice is on the French Riviera, which means I need to maximize the next several weeks as an opportunity to say "Yes, well... I'll be in the south of France in a few days, so I'm afraid I don't care."

There is, of course, a language barrier. But not to fear! I took four whole semesters of French in high school just fifteen years ago, when I was taught a number of useful phrases. I'm so excited to go and ask everybody directions to the library. Also where I might find a farmer.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ball of Evil, Comin' Through

I watched The Fifth Element with Mike Nelson's RiffTrax commentary over the weekend, and it's really the only thing to make it bearable. I know I saw this movie once in its original form, possibly under boyfriend duress, but because of the post-traumatic stress syndrome I'd blocked out all of it except for some chick with orange hair who was supposed to be a perfect being who could save the world, which pretty much destroyed the premise immediately, because... orange hair.

The main bad guy in the movie is an enormous ball of evil headed towards Earth, and as it hurtles closer, Mike narrates, "Ball of evil, comin' through!" Mike is sad when the ball of evil is destroyed (plot spoiler at the beginning of the sentence, by the way). "The ball of evil was my favorite character!" he says. Mine too, for had it succeeded, the ball of evil would have wiped out Bruce Willis and Chris Tucker.

Therefore, in memoriam, I would like to recognize those little Balls of Evil that remain in our hearts, the people, places, groups, and intimate objects which, left unattended, could indeed destroy us all.

Today's Ball of Evil is artificial waterfalls.

I was in Cocoa Beach on Sunday and stood on the top floor of a hotel for a view of the Cape and some pre-school year moments of oceanness. I dropped my purse, faced the water, inhaled, and heard:


It was every bit as relaxing as it sounded. It drowned out the ocean. It drowned out the traffic on A1A. It drowned out the air conditioners in the hotel and it drowned out life as we know it.

Ironic, given I'd come here to listen to water as a means of decompression, but this was not nature-produced. I could have rented a room and started the shower and unclenched more. It did not relax me; it made me want to pee. It was worse than the Hot Springs Portable Spa baptismal fonts currently crapping up the vetibules of most American Catholic churches. I haven't been around many tropical waterfalls in my days, but I'm pretty sure that they aren't supposed to sound like a fire hydrant praying for death.

Good on ya, Artificial Waterfall! You're the little Ball of Evil in my otherwise peaceful galaxy.

don't even get me started on hold music at:

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